Prospective life cycle assessment of a bioprocess design for cultured meat production in hollow fiber bioreactors

Hanna Tuomisto, Scott J. Allan, Marianne J. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The aim of cellular agriculture is to use cell-culturing technologies to produce alternatives to agricultural products. Cul-tured meat is an example of a cellular agriculture product, made by using tissue engineering methods. This study aims to improve the understanding of the potential environmental impacts of cultured meat production by comparing be-tween different bioprocess design scenarios. This was done by carrying out a life cycle assessment (LCA) for a bioprocess system using hollow fiber bioreactors, and utilizing bench-scale experimental data for C2C12 cell prolifer-ation, differentiation and media metabolism. Scenario and sensitivity analyses were used to test the impact of changes in the system design, data sources, and LCA methods on the results to support process design decision making. We com-pared alternative scenarios to a baseline of C2C12 cells cultured in hollow fiber bioreactors using media consisting of DMEM with serum, for a 16-day proliferation stage and 7-day differentiation stage. The baseline LCA used the average UK electricity mix as the energy source, and heat treatment for wastewater sterilization. The greatest reduction in en-vironmental impacts were achieved with the scenarios using CHO cell metabolism instead of C2C12 cell metabolisim (64-67 % reduction); achieving 128 % cell biomass increase during differentiation instead of no increase (42-56 % reduction); using wind electricity instead of average UK electricity (6-39 % reduction); and adjusting the amino acid use based on experimental data (16-27 % reduction). The use of chemical wastewater treatment instead of heat treatment increased all environmental impacts, except energy demand, by 1-16 %. This study provides valuable insights for the cultured meat field to understand the effects of different process design scenarios on environmental impacts, and therefore provides a framework for deciding where to focus development efforts for improving the envi-ronmental performance of the production system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number158051
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue numberPart 1
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 416 Food Science
  • 1172 Environmental sciences
  • Environment
  • Novel foods
  • Carbon footprint
  • Cultivated meat
  • Cell -based meat
  • Livestock

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